Erika MV was a 37,238 DWT Maltese registered tanker, considered one of eight sister ships constructed at Shin Kasado Dockyard in Japan. The tanker was delivered in 1975. Despite having 10% much less metal than many different tankers of comparable dimension, Erika turned very fashionable amongst delivery firms due to its relative inexpensiveness.
On eight December 1999, chartered by the Franco-Belgian oil firm TotalFina, the tanker departed the port of Dunkerque in northeastern France certain for the Italian port of Livorno, on the west coast of Tuscany, carrying 31,000 tons of heavy gasoline oil.
In the early afternoon of the 11th December 1999, Erika went right into a storm as she was crossing the Bay of Biscay and rapidly skilled a serious structural failure. The vessel first started to record closely after which, after the record was corrected, broke in two on 12 December, some 40 nautical miles south of the Pointe de Penmarch in Brittany. Both sections of the vessel finally sank in about 120 metres following an unsuccessful try to tow the strict part additional out to sea. The complete crew was rescued with out damage by the French navy. As a results of the sinking a big proportion of the vessel’s cargo and bunkers spilled into the ocean.
Response vessels had been mobilised instantly, however makes an attempt at skimming finally met with little success owing to the poor climate and widespread fragmentation of the slick. In 15 days of operations 1,100 tonnes of oil and water combination had been collected, primarily throughout a 24-hour interval of comparatively calm climate and decreased swell. It has been estimated that lower than three% of the full spill quantity was collected through the response operations at sea. Owing to the affect of robust winds and currents, shoreline oiling didn’t happen as rapidly as anticipated or within the places initially forecast. After first shifting south-east from the spill website towards La Rochelle, then turning north, the oil lastly started stranding across the mouth of the River Loire on Christmas Day 1999. During the cleanup operation, between 190,000 and 200,000 tonnes of oily waste was collected from shorelines and quickly stockpiled. Operations to pump out oil remaining within the sunken sections of Erika started as soon as the climate improved in June 2000 and had been efficiently accomplished inside three months. Some 10,000 tonnes of oil had been recovered throughout the primary pumping operations.
According to US Coast Guard data, corrosion issues had been obvious on the Erika since at the least 1994 with particulars available to port state management authorities and potential charterers. In an inspection in Portland in July 1994, holes had been found in the primary deck coaming, indicating that indicators of corrosion had been already in place greater than 5 years in the past. There was but extra proof of corrosion, with the ship’s watertight doorways not sealing correctly and losing on the door coamings. Erika switched from Bureau Veritas to Registro Italiano Navale in 1998, which approved her to proceed operations regardless of the French society’s order for a full inspection.
In January 2008 a French courtroom dominated that the French oil large Total SA which chartered the rusting oil tanker, was chargeable for the 1999 sinking. The firm was fined 375,000 euros and informed to pay a share of 192 million euros in damages for considered one of France’s worst environmental disasters.
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